The Buxton Inn in Granville is one of my favorite places in the larger Central Ohio area. It's loaded with history, the food had always been phenomenal, and it has ghosts. I was happy to hear that they started offering ghost and history tours this October. The tours sold out, so they extended the tours through the end of the year.
I had already reviewed The Buxton Inn seven years ago. Since the old owners retired and sold the place, I was curious about the changes I had heard that they had made. They did update it. Aside from adding some playful modern touches in the lobby and the industrial chairs in the tavern, the place still maintains a very historic feel. If anything, the new chairs in the oldest dining room were more period than the previous ones.
It worked out to my advantage to go after Halloween season, as my friend Becky and I ended up getting a personal tour. Since we are both history buffs, the tour ended up being a bit heavier on the history. I already knew quite a bit about the place, but was surprised at some of the more hidden aspects of the history. The Buxton Inn had been a stop on the Underground Railroad. The hiding place the Buxton Inn had designed for them was pretty darned clever. It was cool to see the tunnel that they used to get them into and out of the building unseen. I don't don't know if any paranormal investigators have concentrated in those spots, but I sure will if I ever get there to investigate again.
We also got to see evidence of how they kept a speakeasy in the basement hidden in the 1920. As many times as I have been in the building over the years, I had no clue that a certain door was there. Again, that might be a good spot to investigate.
We did get to go into one of the haunted guest rooms as well as some of the more public haunted areas. #7 was the same room that I had my experience in with the ghost cat. Another interesting feature of the property showed just how strong a believer the previous owner was in the hauntings there. I won't spoil the surprise for you. I expect you will find it just as intriguing as I did.
Becky and I both really enjoyed ourselves. Our guide, Mark, did a great job. If you like history, want to scope out the place for a possible investigation, or just want a fantastic meal, I highly recommend going there.
As we were leaving, the evening ended on the perfect note. Just outside on their walkway was a little grey cat, a nice reminder of the Buxton's own famous purring phantom.
State Historic Preservation Merit Award 2018
Buxton Inn and Robert Schilling
The Buxton Inn in Granville, Ohio has received a 2018 Preservation Merit Award from the State of Ohio Historic Preservation Office. The award was given to recognize the extraordinary stewardship and historic preservation efforts by the past and present owners of The Historic Buxton Inn in Granville, Ohio. The Buxton Inn has long been recognized as one of Ohio’s most important early 19th century historic properties. Originally constructed as an inn and tavern in 1812, the building has remained in its historic use for more than 200 years and is Granville’s oldest business. This achievement is due to the care provided by various owners through the years, but perhaps none more important the immediate past and present owners: Orville and Audrey Orr (1972-2014) and Robert S. Schilling of Urban Restorations (2014-present).
By the 1970’s the elements had taken their toll on the building and there was a concern that the inn might be razed. The owner at that time, Nell Schoeller, agreed to sell the inn to the Orrs with the assurance that the inn would not be razed, a factor which had prevented its sale on previous occasions.
After purchasing the inn, the Orrs began a two year restoration program and painstakingly restored the building and stabilized the structure. They researched the history of the building and successfully nominated it to the National Register of Historic Places. Rather than adding on to the original structure, the Orrs eventually purchased additional homes in the same block. The individual history of each building was respected in these renovations as well, so that each house retains its distinct architectural character. Rather than link the buildings physically, the Orrs used landscaping as a unifier and provided courtyards and fountains as focal points within the complex.
When the Orrs made the decision to sell the building in 2014 they wanted to swell to someone who would be sure to maintain it as the historic landmark and family-friendly inn that it had always been. They found that person in Bob Schilling, owner of a family-run development business in Columbus with ties to Granville. His company, Urban Restorations, set about to renovate the inn and the adjacent properties for continued use. The renovation of The Buxton Inn and five adjacent houses preserved the existing historic character of the building, with minimal interior changes but a focus on needed upgrades to common spaces and guest rooms, including baths. Walls were repainted, mechanicals were improved where needed, and kitchen facilities were upgraded, with historic character preserved throughout. The sensitive rehabilitation of The Buxton Inn and its adjacent properties received Historic Preservation tax Credit Part 3 certification from the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service during 2017.
Like the Orrs, the Schilling family is intimately connected with The Buxton Inn. The inn is managed by Bob’s daughter, Jennifer Valenzuela, and the entire family is involved in Urban Restorations.
The story of these two owners – one who succeeded in preserving an early 19th century landmark by saving it from the wrecking ball and breathing new life into it, and one who is carrying the legacy of that renovation forward into the 21st century – is the story of two families who are committed to historic preservation in a meaningful way that benefits us all.
The commitment of the Orrs and the Schillings to the preservation and continued operation of The Buxton Inn allows us to continue to celebrate the legacy of this important piece of Ohio history today.
feel the history
About The BUXTOn inn
Granville, Ohio was settled by sturdy New Englanders from Granville, Massachusetts and Granby, Connecticut who planned for a New England-type village with churches for their spiritual needs and schools to educate their children. The migrating families left their homes in early September 1805 and arrived at the surveyed site with oxen-drawn wagons containing all their possessions in early November. Log cabins were built for housing and businesses started taking root. Denison University was founded in 1831 and Granville was formally incorporated as a village in 1832.
In 1812, Orrin Granger, a pioneer from Granville, Massachusetts, built “The Tavern” on land that was purchased in 1806. That tavern, now known as “The Buxton Inn” has been operated continuously since that date in 1812. It was long and typical of the times – early American. It had a ballroom, a stagecoach court, a dining room … all the fixings demanded by society in 1812.
The Inn operated as Granville’s first post office, and as a stagecoach stop on the line between Columbus and Newark. The coach drivers were housed in the original cellar with its hewn beams, stone fireplace, and stone walls. The cellar today still carries the feeling of those early years when the drivers cooked their meals in the great open fireplace and slept there on beds of straw.
Orrin Granger was a friend and close acquaintance of General (and later President) William H. Harrison, who was the first of three presidents and one of many “celebrities” who would patronize the Buxton. An early history book recounts that in a display of cheerful bravado, Harrison rode his horse up the courtyard steps into the Buxton’s ballroom where a party was underway.
Time and the elements had taken their toll on the structure by the beginning of the 1970’s. The Buxton Inn building had fallen on tough times and there was talk of razing the old structure to create parking. Granville preservationist Robbins Hunter discussed the prospect of saving the inn with friends Orville and Audrey Orr. After the Orrs shared their restoration plans with Nell Schoeller, she agreed to sell the Inn. The Orr’s were the Inn’s caretakers until the end of 2014. In December 2014 a partnership group purchased The Buxton Inn. The group is led by Robert Schilling who has been preserving central Ohio’s architectural history since the early 1980’s.
Family Owned and managed
Robert Schilling and his family purchased the Buxton Inn from Orville and Audrey Orr in 2014. Their goal was to restore the restaurant and Inn to it’s original glory providing the local community and regional traveler with a welcoming destination.